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Help to get businesses going ...


Small businesses make up the backbone of the United States economy. A few key facts from the Small Business Administration illustrate just how important small businesses are to our country:

Small firms:
• Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms
• Employ just over half of all private sector employees
• Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll
• Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years
• Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP)
• Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers)
• Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises
• Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007
• Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited

Specific to Colorado, small businesses represent 97.8 percent of the state's employers, (www.sba.gov) and over 426,000 businesses were sole proprietorships in 2007.

One jarring statistic, however, is the number of firms that are still in business after five years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics less than half (49 percent) survive 5 years or more; slightly more than a third (34%) make it to the 10 year anniversary, and just over a quarter (26 percent) are still in business at the 15 year anniversary. The poor survival rate implies that the stability of the US economy has been built on a foundation of sand constantly shifting, constantly changing.

On Jan. 31, the White House launched an initiative called Startup America. The aim of the initiative is to:
• Expand access to capital for high-growth startups throughout the country
• Expand entrepreneurship education and mentorship programs that empower more Americans not just to get a job, but to create jobs
• Strengthen commercialization of the nearly $148 billion in annual federally-funded research and development, which can generate innovative startups and entirely new industries
• Identify and remove unnecessary barriers to high-growth startups
• Expand collaborations between large companies and startups

One of the exciting components of Startup America is the large role Colorado's Boulder-based TechStars has in helping drive small businesses to succeed. At the Whitehouse launch of Startup America, David Cohen, TechStars founder, announced TechStars Network. The TechStar Network takes the proven success of TechStars' mentoring and seed acceleration program and replicates it across 17 independently owned and operated accelerators peppered throughout the country. The goal is to increase the number of business startups across the country, providing mentoring and guidance to entrepreneurs to improve long term success.

Entrepreneurs have a propensity to be singularly focused. That can be great for getting the product out the door, but there has to be balance across all of the elements that make up a company. This is where James Fisher and his firm, Growth Curve Institute come into play.

The highly skilled coaches at GCI provide roadmaps, tools, and strategies for entrepreneurs to grow their companies. This firm works with its clients on an on-going basis to identify hurdles to a firm's success and develop strategies in partner with the client to get over the hurdles quickly.

The accompanying GCI graphic illustrates the systems that make up the organism called a business. By examining the elements that make up each system, and how the systems interact to make up the firm, GCI guides entrepreneurs to see how a decision in one part of the business impacts the other parts of the firm.

Like TechStars, Growth Curve Institute looks to building teams of mentors for its clients to ensure an on-going support system for the entrepreneur. As the firm grows, clients tend to continue to meet with their peer group for idea exchange essentially building a team of trusted advisors.

To apply to TechStars for its mentorship program, go here. To get a taste of Growth Curve Institute and what it can offer you and your company, plan to attend a complementary two-hour seminar on February 9 in Westminster, February 17 in Denver, or February 24 in Boulder. Go here to register.

Small businesses are what drive our economy. No matter where you are in the entrepreneurship cycle, Colorado is rich with resources readily available to support your vision and to achieve success.

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Martha Young

Martha Young is principal at NovaAmber, LLC, a business strategy company based in Golden. Young has held positions as industry analyst, director of market research, competitive intelligence analyst, and sales associate. She has written books, articles, and papers regarding the intersection of technology and business for over 15 years. She has co-authored four books on the topics of virtual business processes, virtual business implementations, and project management for IT. Young can be reached at myoung@novaamber.com or on Twitter @myoung_vbiz




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